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Iran Expects More Cooperation with China: Officials
   2016-01-22 19:10:45    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Guo Jing

Chinese President Xi Jinping is to visit Iran over the weekend, the final leg of his Middle East tour.

As CRI's Fei Fei reports, Iranian officials have expressed their expectations for more bilateral cooperation with China on the occasion of the visit.

 

Iran's Vice President and chairman of Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization, Masoud Soltanifar, said Iran expects to deepen cooperation with China in the areas of tourism and culture.

He hoped that more Chinese visitors can come to Iran to enjoy the country's profound cultural heritage.

"We think that the number of Chinese who travel to Iran should be higher than it is now, which is currently lower than 50,000. We believe that about ten to 20 percent of foreign tourists will come from China in the next ten years, which means that we will receive one million or two million Chinese tourists."

Soltanifar said Iran is already trying to attract more visitors by simplifying visa application procedures and improving tourism facilities to cater to Chinese visitors. For example, more Chinese restaurants, more travel guides who can speak Chinese, and more necessary facilities in accordance with the demands of Chinese tourists.

Iran's Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Ali Tayyebnia pointed out that Xi Jinping's visit to Iran will provide important opportunities to develop cooperation in the fields of politics and trade.

"China is much more than a common trade partner to Iran. We consider China as a strategic partner and hope to keep our long-term friendship with China, without the interruption of any short-term political and economic factors. We believe that President Xi's visit to Iran sends a signal that China is willing to develop long-term strategic ties with Iran."

The minister also expressed his expectations that Iran will become more heavily involved in China's "Belt and Road" initiative, the modern day land and maritime Silk Roads.

"China's 'Belt and Road' initiative has attracted wide attention from people from all walks of life in Iran. Iran has a great capability and potential and we believe that this initiative will bring benefit to all the countries along the road. Therefore, we have expressed our interest in participating in this project. Meanwhile, some departments of Iran have put forward some plans and I hope Iran and Iranian enterprises can play an important in part in the 'Belt and Road' initiative."

Chinese President Xi Jinping is currently on a 4-day state tour of the Middle East and Soltanifar believes key agreements can be reached when Xi concludes his visit in Iran.

"It's expected that the two countries can come to a consensus during President Xi's visit and sign the related agreements. As I said before, China provided us much assistance during the difficult period of sanctions and helped us solve many problems. We will never forget our old friend after the lifting of the nuclear sanctions."

Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the proposal of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in 2013.

As part of the initiative, China committed 40 billion dollars to the establishment of a Silk Road Fund in 2014 to support relevant cooperation projects in countries along the Belt and Road.

Ahead of his state visit to the country, President Xi Jinping published a signed article titled "Work Together for a Bright Future of China-Iran Relations" on Iranian newspaper Iran on Thursday.

In the article, President Xi says China is ready to deepen cooperation with Iran on building roads, railway, sea routes and the Internet, and facilitating East-West connectivity in Asia.

For CRI, this is Fei Fei.

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